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Are Other Hominins (Hominoids) Alive Today?


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I've been thinking on the issue of absence of BF in the fossil record of North America. One question that would need to be answered is "how old does a bone have to be in order to be considered a fossil"? According to Wiki it is arbitrary but in the range of 10,000 years old. To my knowledge that is just under how long we are supposed to have arrived here 13,000 YA or so.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil

Such a preserved specimen is called a "fossil" if it is older than some minimum age, most often the arbitrary date of 10,000 years ago.[1] Hence, fossils range in age from the youngest at the start of theHolocene Epoch to the oldest from the Archaean Eon, up to 3.4 billion years old

So I wonder if the absence of a fossil record of BF in NA is really a strong argument, particularly if it had less opportunity or a smaller population than humans.

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Post #163 pasted below.

"Present-day east Asians and Native Americans appear to have more in common genetically with the Neanderthals than present-day Europeans, even though Europe was thought to be the main hangout for Neanderthals hundreds of thousands of years ago."

http://cosmiclog.nbc...man-genome?lite

Thanks for the reference, I thought I got off the line some with that post.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carte_Neandertaliens.jpg

Assuming this map to be accurate, there don't seem to be many neanderthal fossil finds north of 50 degrees latitude. Is this significant, or could it be there have just been more archeological digs in more temperate climates.

Another point I wonder about is, if Neanderthals were clothes-wearers, has any physical evidence of clothing been found near neanderthal fossil remains.

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The map also shows what looks like the extent of the ice sheet probably at the max. It would have likely moved back and forth significantly in waves but there might not have been enough time for any significant vegetation to form there. There is also a lack of Clovis in most of Canada I believe for the same reason. One thing of note from the map is there are only two possible human remains found thought to be associated with Clovis and they were all over North America with the exception of most of Canada.

http://www.andaman.o.../ClovisArea.jpg

from site:

http://www.andaman.o...text-Clovis.htm

Edited by BobZenor
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I've been thinking on the issue of absence of BF in the fossil record of North America. One question that would need to be answered is "how old does a bone have to be in order to be considered a fossil"? According to Wiki it is arbitrary but in the range of 10,000 years old. To my knowledge that is just under how long we are supposed to have arrived here 13,000 YA or so.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil

So I wonder if the absence of a fossil record of BF in NA is really a strong argument, particularly if it had less opportunity or a smaller population than humans.

There are scant few fossils of the passenger pigeon and they used to be the most populous bird in the world. A lack of fossils doesn't mean anything more than that we haven't found them is all.

I do not believe "fossil" refers to remains of a certain age but rather to biological remains that have had all of their organic materials replaced with minerals. "subfossils" have some of their organic material replaced with minerals but not all of them hence "sub".

I suppose this might occur after a certain length of time but probably different environments have different rates of replacement.

Thank you antfoot for providing those links to the Neanderthal studies. After reading through them it seems that the idea that they used close fitting clothing is based on two things:

  1. Evidence - sharpened bones at Neanderthal sites that would have been used for sewing awls.
  2. The assumption that Neanderthal would be highly similar to HSS in regard to requirements for protection from the cold.

While I think that it is likely HSN had technology for making clothing, I wonder whether the assumption that they had to wear tight fitting clothing for survival is accurate? It may be that they had a much more robust resistance to cold than we can imagine.

Another interesting aspect of the study was the observation that they must have killed one large game animal every month or so, then dried the meat to carry to a more permanent camp. Some Native American or First Nations people have stories that talk about BF also having food storage, which would require a level of planning for containment and protection. If this is the case, then it would make some sense in regards to sustaining a viable population (rather than having to rely on foraging during winter months in northern climates).

I don't take for granted every thing they say but this is interesting all the same. However, I am convinced the neanderthals wore sewn cothes after reading this and their reasoning seems very sound. Unless neanderthals were covered in thick hair they would have needed clothing. If they did not need clothing then why the tools? And why do modern bigfoots not appear to use them?

A stone tool probably is several thousand times more likely survive intact than the bones of one the hominids that made it. There would always be tools around that were far more common than the bones of the hominids. There is really no way that anyone could attribute any stone tool to any species of hominid.

A simple stone tool might not be expecially likely to be found in a rock strewn area. Furthermore a good rock used for one tool might be good for making another tool. A tool lost on the serengetti would not likely be found near any bones. Perhaps someone missed their target or dropped it when they were ambushed. Of course, tools found near bones may have been there before the body fell but not likely later as sediments would have to cover both of them within a reasonable time frame before scavengers took the bones away. If a primeval bipedal ape wasn't the maker of the tool way back then, who was? Fossils of Homo sapiens vary over time as one might expect from an evolving species.

Out of curiosity, is there good evidence that Neanderthals inhabited areas of extreme cold? I have always assumed that uncultured/uncivilized (call them what you will) hominins might exhibit nomadic tendencies, especially if food sources were becoming scarce. But that view is not based on anything substantive, it's just my conjecture.

I'll try and wise up a bit around Neanderthals and stop asking dorky questions.

Really, I'm just trying to stress test the hypothesis that BF could be some kind of modern Neanderthal.

What makes you think nomadic types would be uncivilized? or that neanderthals were uncivilized? Their culture would be different to be sure but not necessarily uncivilized. Being social primates they probably cared about each other and perhaps also had difficulties with each other. Just like us.

They probably were nomadic and they probably knew a great deal about the behavior and movements of their prey species and possibly the herbs and wood in their areas. One find contained a grave filled with flowers. That is a part of their culture.

Post #163 pasted below.

"Present-day east Asians and Native Americans appear to have more in common genetically with the Neanderthals than present-day Europeans, even though Europe was thought to be the main hangout for Neanderthals hundreds of thousands of years ago."

http://cosmiclog.nbc...man-genome?lite

This makes me think the hybridisation event happened in the middle-east. The greater amount of neanderthal dna went eastward while the european ancestors went northward but possibly lost some of the neaderthal dna en route.

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A simple stone tool might not be especially likely to be found in a rock strewn area. Furthermore a good rock used for one tool might be good for making another tool. A tool lost on the serengetti would not likely be found near any bones. Perhaps someone missed their target or dropped it when they were ambushed. Of course, tools found near bones may have been there before the body fell but not likely later as sediments would have to cover both of them within a reasonable time frame before scavengers took the bones away. If a primeval bipedal ape wasn't the maker of the tool way back then, who was? Fossils of Homo sapiens vary over time as one might expect from an evolving species.

Stone tools are going to probably be more common in places that are attractive to hominids. Those places would likely be the same whatever their level of technology. There is a difference in technological hominids when they start making hand axes and probably somewhat before that for whatever lineage eventually developed stone hand axes. They then had property or valuables so a fixed site was likely. I doubt they made only what they could carry since the best rocks needed to make them are going to be in specific places. They probably needed a supply of them. They probably had females that remained at the camp site and it follows that extra tools and probably other items would be stored there. The consequence of that is that the technological hunter gatherer is going to periodically change locations or campsites. They are more likely to camp at places that offered shelter like caves but they would eventually get around to their entire greater territory as apposed to the range they walk from the current camp so the stone tools would be everywhere. They would likely exhaust the local resources within range of their camp so they would change camps in a larger specific territory that they knew and come back to that place in a few years or however long it took for the food resources in the area to replenish. There is obviously a strong selection to eliminate other competitors in your territory and eventually expand it so more of you children can survive. They aren't going to want to allow other hominids around.

That is the expected behavior of the dominant hominid but another less technological group would have less reason to make a fixed campsite. I think it very likely that the more technological hominid was dominant. Making a fixed site would expose your most vulnerable members and possessions to all being lost if you aren't dominant when the males go hunting. A better strategy might be for the less dominant and less technological hominid to not have a fixed site. They would likely do better keeping track of where the dominant group was as best they could and avoiding them in the larger territory. That would imply less members in the band also since they aren't getting the first choice of territory. They would have to move around in the territory of the dominant group. A fixed site for them would be a liability if they are sharing the same larger territory. Without the fixed site they have nowhere to store their possessions. There is less selection pressure for them to go down that evolutionary path. Those that do have to compete directly with the more technological hominid.

That is how I see a cryptic species starting to evolve. Early Homo seems a logical time for it to happen since that is when there were apparently multiple species and the first significant tool use. I doubt that there was more than one significantly technological group 1.5 million years or whenever the first stone hand axes were made. It seems a likely time when the more cryptic form would evolve since they would logically be in significant danger from more technological hominids. Stone hand axes appear to be very effective weapons and may have even been thrown. That less technological group is likely to stay that way if they are forced to be elusive. They likely aren't going to be selected for technology since that brings them into direct competition with probably our ancestors.

Over time the significantly technological hominids also radiated into new species and separate populations but there is no reason to assume that there still weren't some that weren't technological at all besides clubs and rocks. That is especially true if they don't have any significantly technological hominids in their ancestry. That assumption is based on the assumption of a non technological hominid living today. Since that isn't a common assumption, most anthropologists only see what they think of as human ancestors and why all Homo are assumed to be technological. It isn't like habilis was likely someone would think was human if you met them on the street.

http://upload.wikime...o_habilis-2.JPG

I certainly never argued that hominids didn't make the tools. The point was that you can't say any particular one of them was necessarily technological since you can't associate any particular group with the one made the tools. That is the circular reasoning that implies that all hominids in the genus Homo were technological. The logical assumption is that it was our ancestors who were technological and the other lineages less so or not at all. Early on that means that only one group was significantly technological. Which lineage that was our ancestor becomes dubious before about a million years ago. It was probably still something more closely related to erectus or ergaster. It becomes extremely dubious assigning technology when you are talking about a specific species like habilis or rudolfensis necessarily being technological when the common ancestor of all the Homo is before significant tool use. The only way you can do that is assuming they were all evolving into more technological hominids. It isn't normal in biology for radiating species to all have the same niche. It is also not the most reasonable assumption for other reason but they basically come back to the same biological reasons which have to do with avoiding competition.

Edited by BobZenor
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Guest BFSleuth

^^ +1 from me Bob.

This thread has been a learning experience for myself, and I'm sure for many other members, with contributions from yourself, antfoot, and others that are sharing insights into the world of anthropology and archeology. I think the most important thing that I take from this discussion is that the level of certainty regarding our current knowledge of the evolution of the homo genus is a work in progress. The fossil and artifact record is far from complete and therefore we are left to speculate on what must have happened.

The most exciting progress seems to be with the work of DNA and statistical analysis of the branching and intermingling of various species or groups. I think in the next 10-20 years we may very well see a remarkable shift in the prevailing understanding of our origins.

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What makes you think nomadic types would be uncivilized? or that neanderthals were uncivilized? Their culture would be different to be sure but not necessarily uncivilized. Being social primates they probably cared about each other and perhaps also had difficulties with each other. Just like us.

I didn't mean uncivilized in any perjorative sense. Rather, I was using the term to denote that as Neanderthals almost certainly did not live in large urban groupings ('civilized' deriving from the latin civilis, meaning city-state), there would be no socio-geographic bond keeping an individual in a given location when living conditions there became sub-optimal. Speculation I know, but then so much is for these distant times.

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^ okay I get it.

However, even though the word might mean city most people today still don't live in them. Nomads were bound to their lands almost as much as serfs in medieval europe were. These home ranges were all they really knew. They would have struggled to adapt to the changes in their lands before moving outward. After all, they already had this land and knew it intimately. This was almost as true among sapiens as neanderthals or erectus. Sapiens however was more successful at expanding outward.

Stone tools are going to probably be more common in places that are attractive to hominids. Those places would likely be the same whatever their level of technology. There is a difference in technological hominids when they start making hand axes and probably somewhat before that for whatever lineage eventually developed stone hand axes. They then had property or valuables so a fixed site was likely. I doubt they made only what they could carry since the best rocks needed to make them are going to be in specific places. They probably needed a supply of them. They probably had females that remained at the camp site and it follows that extra tools and probably other items would be stored there. The consequence of that is that the technological hunter gatherer is going to periodically change locations or campsites. They are more likely to camp at places that offered shelter like caves but they would eventually get around to their entire greater territory as apposed to the range they walk from the current camp so the stone tools would be everywhere. They would likely exhaust the local resources within range of their camp so they would change camps in a larger specific territory that they knew and come back to that place in a few years or however long it took for the food resources in the area to replenish. There is obviously a strong selection to eliminate other competitors in your territory and eventually expand it so more of you children can survive. They aren't going to want to allow other hominids around.

That is the expected behavior of the dominant hominid but another less technological group would have less reason to make a fixed campsite. I think it very likely that the more technological hominid was dominant. Making a fixed site would expose your most vulnerable members and possessions to all being lost if you aren't dominant when the males go hunting. A better strategy might be for the less dominant and less technological hominid to not have a fixed site. They would likely do better keeping track of where the dominant group was as best they could and avoiding them in the larger territory. That would imply less members in the band also since they aren't getting the first choice of territory. They would have to move around in the territory of the dominant group. A fixed site for them would be a liability if they are sharing the same larger territory. Without the fixed site they have nowhere to store their possessions. There is less selection pressure for them to go down that evolutionary path. Those that do have to compete directly with the more technological hominid.

This all depends on the time we are speaking of. Until actual villages were established, they (whoever they are) probably did not actually have a fixed site. All prehistoric members of genus Homo likely lived nomadically. They probably had particular areas they stayed in during particular times of the year. They likely had few posessions and we have no evidence they were storing foods or other supplies like stones or tools. Not that that is unlikely but without evidence we can't make an informed opinion.

Females most likely did not stay in the home base or whatever. They were most likely out gathering foods and other resources while males hunted.

I certainly never argued that hominids didn't make the tools. The point was that you can't say any particular one of them was necessarily technological since you can't associate any particular group with the one made the tools. That is the circular reasoning that implies that all hominids in the genus Homo were technological. The logical assumption is that it was our ancestors who were technological and the other lineages less so or not at all. Early on that means that only one group was significantly technological. Which lineage that was our ancestor becomes dubious before about a million years ago. It was probably still something more closely related to erectus or ergaster. It becomes extremely dubious assigning technology when you are talking about a specific species like habilis or rudolfensis necessarily being technological when the common ancestor of all the Homo is before significant tool use. The only way you can do that is assuming they were all evolving into more technological hominids. It isn't normal in biology for radiating species to all have the same niche. It is also not the most reasonable assumption for other reason but they basically come back to the same biological reasons which have to do with avoiding competition.

I do somewhat agree that you can't assign tool-manufacture to a particular hominid but to claim a particular hominid couldn't make a tool that is lying beside it doesn't make any more sense especially. True the fossil deer that has a stone spear head next to it probably didn't make it (no opposable thumbs) but a hominid (with opposable thumbs) could certainly make a tool even if it did not. There were only so many hominids in any given region at any given time. As all known apes are technological including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans I don't see any hindrance to australopithicine, paranthropines, or hiominines being technological.

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Guest BFSleuth

The advent of agriculture is what caused the nomadic hunter/gatherer way of existence to fade into the background. Agriculture required staying in one location and for the formation of larger and more complex societies to emerge, initially as villages and later into cities. As far as we know HSS is the only one of the genus that had agriculture and therefore created settlements that are more easily identified. It is interesting to note that many ancient cultures with stories of hairy hominids have stories describing how the HH's were the ones that taught HSS how to grow crops. If there is any element of truth to these stories, then they must have had a more nomadic method of growing crops or interacting with their environment more as facilitators of food sources in their wanderings. Perhaps akin to the ethic of the forager, that you always leave behind something to grow for food next year and not take everything. Perhaps they expanded upon that and in addition to not taking everything they also actively planted crops as they went from place to place in their territories.

I've thought about this in relation to the ideas of certain types of stick structures attributed to BF, especially the clusters of branches stacked in the forks of trees or low hanging limbs broken off of trees. It may be possible that this is activity to clear space and sunlight for growth of foraging plants or simply housekeeping to make their path through the woods easier to travel. If this is some type of management of their environment then it points to a possible ability to plan ahead for optimizing their food sources and comfort.

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Hairy hominids taught sapiens agriculture? I never heard that before. Certainly there are many tales about humans learning agriculture from gods and other deities but I don't think I've heard any that are particularly reminiscent of hairy hominids.

agriculture probably came out of maintaining desirable fruits, nuts, herbs and possibly wood trees and herds or flocks of animals. No bigfoot report I've ever heard suggests anything like maintenance of a food source.

Agriculture doesn't necessarily require a settled life but is certainly easier with it. Nomads maintain resources also. Agriculture doesn't require particularly complex societies either. Complex societies arose after agriculture became established in some parts of the world but North America didn't become especially complex after the advent of agriculture. Certainly not like happened in Central America or South America.

Still, agriculture did make the extinction of other hominids an almost cetainty.

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  • 5 months later...
  • 4 years later...

The evidence is overwhelmingly "yes."  Count on sasquatch, orang pendek and yeti at a bare minimum.  I'd toss in yeren if you need four.  ;-)

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